PHOENIX (FIBA U16 African Championship 2017) – Mali's Siriman Kanoute, the Most Valuable Player of the recent FIBA U16 African Championship in Mauritius, is seeking to make a show at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 next year in Argentina.
"It will not be easy. But I know the whole team is preparing for that one. We are definitely going to give it our best shot," Kanoute said.
For Kanoute, Mauritius was a matter of getting the job done.
"We came to Mauritius to win the title. This was our main focus when we engaged in the FIBA U16 African Championship," Kanoute said after the Final, where Mali defeated reigning champions Egypt.
By getting to the Final, Mali also claimed one of Africa's two tickets for the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup 2018 – the other going to Egypt.
Looking back on the Final, Kanoute still cannot believe they overcame the mighty Egyptians, who had won the 2009, 2011 and 2015 titles and finished second in 2013.
"We are glad the wait is finally over. We have been waiting for so long to clinch our first title that we still cannot believe we did it," Kanoute said.
It was a matter of revenge too for the country after losing to Egypt 64-63 in the Final of the FIBA U16 African Championship 2015 in Bamako.
"We wanted to get even with Egypt after they beat us at home in the last seconds of the game. Now that it's done, we are looking forward to the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup," Kanoute explained.
Kanoute knows the competition in Argentina will be difficult but still believes that Mali have a role to play at their second straight FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup.
"We wanted to go there, and bringing home the (U16 Africa) trophy really helps in getting a new mindset ahead of the competition," Kanoute concluded.